Friday, May 16, 2008

Spiritual Discipline: Meditation

I need to do a better job blogging about the subject of Spiritual Discipline. It is extremely important to our spiritual growth, but for some reason I fail to actually write down my impressions about it. Or, in this case, my struggles with it. Meditation is kind of a thorny issue for people in and out of the church. I can't say I blame them. When I bring up the idea of meditation people start to think of Zen Meditation, Yoga, or the like. We lose ourselves to enter the great loss of self into the greater cloud of souls. Or something. We lose ourselves. While with the Christian version we are to try to enter the presence of God. At least, that's what I think we are supposed to do. Perhaps we can also spend it focussing on scripture. In this case I didn't start with anything in particular in mind. I tried to quite myself to hear the voice of God. Which lasted for all about five seconds as I started to wonder what I'll have for dinner. So I switched gears and tried to think about God, which moved onto the names of God, and then the greatness of God. I made a trail of thought from a vague idea as to who God is to the more specific God is the Lion of Judah! Does it help me gain a better understanding of God? Does it help me to know Him more? I do not know. This is such a foreign territory for me that I can't say whether it is being beneficial or not. On top of that I am not sure what benefit it will have for me and my spiritual growth. What I do know is I am inconsistent with practicing these disciplines and perhaps I'll gain a better understanding as I do them.


posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:11 AM


Anonymous Jeff said...

Hmmm. Interesting stuff. I have some mixed feelings about meditation myself.
I spent a few years identifying myself as a Buddhist. I practiced meditation on a daily basis for most of this period, some times for a couple minutes, other times as much as an hour.
I've encountered a few resources that encourage meditation within a Christian context. I am clear that it's not a wise decision for me to "go there" personally, I'm a little less clear about whether folks from different backgrounds ought to do them.
Tony Compollo's excellent book on spiritual pracices (he co-wrote it; it's titled something like "The God of Intimacy and Action") promotes it, but it's kind-of interesting. Because while they are suggesting that people meditiate, they also say that you ought to pray for Jesus' protection before doing so. They quote the gospel which says that if we kick out a spirit from a house that we leave empty seven spirits will come back to inhabit it. The implication is clearly that the empty house is our mind and emptying it is a meditative act.
To me, this brought to mind the temptations of Jesus. Doing something that Jesus said was dangerous after praying for Jesus protection doesn't strike me as any different than Satan telling Jesus he ought to jump off the temple because the angels would catch him. Jesus point essentially is "Yes, they would. But why should they have to? Jumping from here would be a foolish thing to do."
It seems to me a pretty similiar deal: Yes, Jesus would protect me. But why should he have to? If he said it's dangerous why should he?"
My other concern about the practice is that there was a Christian spin put on it, but at it's heart it seems like most of the tips, practices, and strategies come straight out of other religions. As old-school as this sounds, it's just hard not to see this as idolatry.

4:12 AM  
Blogger jefe said...

The scripture that comes to mind when the subject of meditation arises is Joshua 1:8 where God told Joshua to meditate on the book of the law day & night, in order to have success in taking the Promised Land.

I looked up that word in the Hebrew & the definition is interesting:

to moan, growl, utter, muse, mutter, devise, plot, speak

I know when I'm concentrating hard on something, I always tend to mutter or talk-it-out (although my wife thinks I'm nuts when I constantly talk to myself). Recently, I've wondered if that's not the way we should approach God & scripture-- take time to muse, mutter, speak-- even devise & plot??

It's an interesting concept...

2:06 PM  

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